Friday, 4 November 2011

Inaccessible assessment centres

Someone posted the following on one of the M.E. groups on Facebook earlier. It illustrates beautifully what we are up against:

"I have just posted this as my status. Please feel free to nick it if you wish

This is a true story, please repost this to show what the levels of treatment the UK is currently doling out on the most vulnerable people in our society. It is not an isolated or unusual example either.

A guy is chatting to a gentleman at a bus stop. He is in a wheelchair. He explains that he has just had to bus from Weston-Super-Mare to Bristol for an assessment of his fitness to work. The reason he has had to bus this far, is that the medical assessment centre in Weston-Super-Mare IS NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. During the medical, the assessor tells the gentleman that he is going to hit his knee with a hammer to test his reflexes. The gentleman insists that this is not going to happen. The assessor (who is allegedly medically qualified) challenges him as to why he will not allow this. The gentleman replies that it is because HE HAS BONE CANCER.

So, bearing in mind this gentleman's condition, and the fact that he would have filled in a long and tedious form outlining the state of his health, the question is WHY ON EARTH WOULD THEY PUT SOMEONE SO SICK THROUGH THIS PROCESS?


I know many people will read this and dismiss it, assuming that the system cannot really be that stupid, but honestly, it really is. 

The experience I had a few years ago is not dissimilar. I was called for a medical assessment. I was not actually claiming benefits at the time, but was told to go for it anyway. The assessment centre is over an hour away from here by car. I can never be certain that I would be able to drive that long to get there, then endure the assessment (let alone the waiting room before hand), and drive home again. They sent me a route plan for public transport. The route plan took over three hours, with several bus changes; some of them did not even meet up, buses leaving before the bus I would have been on was supposed to have arrived at the link destination. There is no way that I would be able to undertake such a journey, even on a good day. They refused to perform a home assessment for me, so Ian felt forced to take the day off work and take me to the assessment. The assessment centre does not have a car park. So, people attending the centre must find parking. We had to park approximately ten minutes walk away from the centre. The assessment suite is on the third floor. There is a lift, but you are told when you enter the building that it frequently breaks down and asked if you will be able to use the stairs if this happens. That is obviously part of the assessment. On that occasion I was assessed by a doctor. He was really nice, and sympathetic to my condition. Sadly, a couple of weeks later I was phoned by the assessment centre saying that there were problems with my assessment and that they could not locate the doctor who had assessed me to enquire about them; that I must attend another assessment. Ian refused to take another day off work in order to take me. I therefore received a letter stating that I had lost the benefits I was receiving. I was not receiving any anyway. The entire episode was most perplexing. 

I believe that the Croydon assessment centre has recently been criticised by their local MP for the fact that it is inaccessible. The centre's argument was that if people could get into the building they were fit to work, and if they were able to communicate with people inside the building that they could not enter, they were also fit for work. 

This is the level of victimisation that we're up against. From the government, and agencies that are supposed to be helping us. I despair.

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